Justin Snedegar, "Contrastive Reasons" (Oxford UP, 2017)


When we are thinking about what we ought to do, we are nearly always deciding among options. And we often talk in ways that reflect this; statement about what one ought to do are frequently explicitly statements that identify some act as the one to be performed from a broader set of alternatives. Accordingly, we recognize that a consideration which favors some act among one set of options might favor a different act among a different set of options. This has led some to think that normative reasons are fundamentally contrastive in structure. This is to say that a reason to perform some act is always a reason to perform that act rather than some other act. Contrastivism about normative reasons is the view according to which there is no reason simpliciter to perform a given act; a reason to perform some act A is always a reason to A given some background of alternatives. As it captures the general structure of normative reasoning, contrastivism sounds intuitive. But a lot of work needs doing in order to flesh out the details. In Contrastive Reasons (Oxford University Press, 2017), Justin Snedegar develops and defends a novel version of contrastivism about moral reasons. He then extends the view to normative reasons of other kinds by offering an analysis of when it is rational to withhold belief.

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Robert Talisse

Robert Talisse is the W. Alton Jones Professor of Philosophy at Vanderbilt University.

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